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Scuba Divers Entering the Water January 22, 2009

Posted by Chris Sullivan in Training.
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In PADI training the most commonly taught method of entering the water is the giant stride entry. It is a good way to enter the water, but there are lots of others. I thought it might be a nice idea to make a list of all the ones I know for recreational diving. I’m sure the military has a bunch more for specialized use, like entering from a submarine or helicopter, or techniques for entering quietly. Commercial divers also have their own methods, like being dropped in the water by a crane, or on a mechanically lowered platform. I’ve heard the latter method is also available to recreational divers in some operations for people with disabilities or technical divers with huge loads of gear.

A few years back my brother gave me his old open water sport diver manual, published by Jeppesen. You may not have heard of Jeppesen, but I was familiar with them as the publisher of Aviation Charts in the United States. Originally published in 1975, this 4th edition published in 1984 is rather quaint, but has a lot of great information, including lots of information on fresh water fish identification. It covers several types of entry including Giant Stride, Forward Roll, Back Roll, Controlled Seated Entry, Step and Jump. The Jeppesen web site  has online aviation weather maps which are pretty interesting if you like that sort of thing.

  1. Giant Stride (a.k.a. Giant Step or just Step) – After all pre-dive checks, make sure BC is sufficiently inflated to float, mask is on and regulator is in the mouth. Place right hand on mask and regulator (base of hand on reg, fingertips on mask) to avoid them being dislodged on entry, while the other hand usually covers the gauge console or protects other vulnerable equipment like dive lights. Look down at where you will enter to make sure there is nothing and noone there, then look straight ahead. Then take a big step of the boat’s dive platform, the dock or the side of the swimming pool. Once you emerge from under the water in good condition, give an OK sign to whoever is looking out for you (usually from where you just came). Key points on this entry are not to jump, to look straight ahead, and to step far enough so the tank doesn’t hit the dive platform.
  2. Step – like a Giant Stride without the Giants. Just a step into the water. Jeppesen describes the Giant Stride differently to PADI, showing the diver with his arms outstretched to the sides and pointing upwards at a 45 degree angle. This is supposed to slow the diver down when entering shallow water, which it says is the main benefit of the Giant Stride. I think that PADI’s Giant Stride is actually more like Jeppesen’s Step. It’s a good thing that the Jeppesen Giant Stride is into shallow water because it would be easier to find your mask when it comes off.
  3. Jump – another one that I only saw in Jeppesen manual is sort of a kangaroo hop into the water. I’ve never seen anyone do it. I might try it for fun sometime when I’m not wearing doubles.
  4. Forward Roll – this one used to be more popular than it is now. It’s a similar setup to the Giant Stride but instead of a big step, you roll head first into the water. It was explained to me when I was taught this entry 26 years ago that if any equipment is going to get dislodged during the dive, it will probably happen while doing this entry. The only person I’ve seen doing it in the last few years is Philippe Kunz who runs Caicos Adventures on Provodenciales Island in the Turks and Caicos. If you try this one among strangers they might think you’re strange or don’t know what you’re doing.
  5. Backward Step – the only place I’ve seen this is on a documentary series by John Stoneman called the Last Frontier which was shot in the mid to late eighties. The divers (usually also wearing Speedos, which thankfully have disappeared along with hair bands and pleated pants) would turn around with their backs to the water and take a big backward step. In all other respects it seems similar to the Giant Stride but would seem to have an advantage for tank clearance, as it is now facing away from the boat.
  6. Back Roll – the coolest entry in my opinion, ideal for small boats but really lots of fun if you’re a long way from the water and wearing double tanks. When heavily weighted I seem to stay under water for a long time before bobbing to the surface. For a long time I thought this was the only way to enter the water as divers in the Cousteau documentaries always seemed to go in that way. Jeppesen criticises both the forward and back rolls for providing no protection against submerged objects. They have a point there, I think.
  7. Controlled Seated Entry – Sit down on the ledge, dock or poolside with feet in the water, reach to one side with both hands and turn around while letting yourself down. Easy, safe and quiet. I use this in the pool when the instructor is talking and I don’t want to cause a disturbance with a big splash.
  8. Shore entries – usually walking in with fins in hand, or when the surf is heavy walking in backwards with the fins on.

That’s my list. If someone knows more (other than backflips or faceplants that you see on youtube) let me know.

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Comments»

1. psuscubaguy - January 22, 2009

Great list of entries. I typically teach my students the controlled seated entry and the giant stride, but I also use the forward roll from a seated position when working with Discover SCUBA students as it’s a quick easy way to get them in the water. It’s also fun to see how many of them will do a complete roll verses just hit the water and roll to the side.

I’ve personally tried the back roll in doubles from a large boat. OUCH! Hit the water flat on my back. Not particularly painful, but did not make me want to do it again.

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2. Chris Sullivan - February 25, 2011

There’s a joke that goes something like “Why do SCUBA divers fall backwards into the water?”. A: “If they fell forwards they’d still be on the boat!”

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3. Chris Sullivan - June 7, 2016

I went diving in Bali in 2002, fortunately about 6 months before the disco bombing in Kuta, and went for a dive at Nusa Dua. Anyway I did the forward roll entry and they thought I was crazy, and immediately checked my form and noted sagely that it had been 4 years since my most recent dive. That seemed to satisfy them and we continued on for a great dive.

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